MISSION UPDATES | November 5, 2019

Sols 2577-2578: En Route Around Central Butte

Written by Mariah Baker, Planetary Geologist at Johns Hopkins University
Sols 2577-2578: En Route Around Central Butte

Today, the team continued our exploration of Central Butte with a two-sol “touch-and-go” plan, which means that the rover will have one sol of contact science at this stop before she continues on her drive around the base of the butte. Early on in planning, there was some discussion about the drive route; ultimately, the team decided to head south to get a closer view of some of the exposed layering within the butte. The northern side of Central Butte can be seen in the Navcam image above.

Today’s plan included time for a short science block before the drive, which the team filled with a ChemCam RMI mosaic of target “Crimond” and a Mastcam mosaic that will provide increased coverage of our drive direction. MAHLI and APXS measurements were also planned for the bedrock target “Pobie Bank,” comprising the “touch” part of this plan. After this science block, the rover will “go” to her next stop, which will bring us a little further up the base of the butte. Standard post-drive imaging using Navcam, Mastcam, and MARDI will round out the first sol and will provide a better look at Wednesday’s workspace. The second sol in the plan contains one untargeted science block, which will include a ChemCam passive measurement, a ChemCam AEGIS observation, and a Mastcam stereo mosaic of the top of the butte. The team also planned a set of environmental observations including REMS and DAN measurements, as well as Mastcam images of the crater rim, a Mastcam sky survey, a Navcam line-of-sight observation, and a Navcam supra horizon movie. This data will help give us a head start on our next plan so that we can use our time to examine Central Butte more closely. In order to accomplish all of our science goals at this location, the rover will make a couple more stops along the side of the butte before continuing along the long-term strategic route.